Townsville Bulletin

Moreton bays for blood

- TRAVIS MEYN, PETER BADEL

THE Dolphins have become embroiled in a naming scandal after local leaders threatened to pull millions in funding and slammed the NRL expansion club over the snubbing of Moreton Bay.

Moreton Bay Mayor Peter Flannery called a crisis meeting with Dolphins chiefs and accused the team of having an attitude that “stinks” after the club was named simply “the Dolphins”.

Queensland legend Petero Civoniceva and federal minister Peter Dutton are among a chorus of voices demanding the expansion club be named the Moreton Bay Dolphins.

The Dolphins were last week awarded the NRL’S 17th licence in preference to the Brisbane Jets and Firehawks bids, and will enter the competitio­n from 2023.

But in the space of a week they have sensationa­lly found an enemy in the council ally that provided $10m in funding for their successful bid.

They are expected to unveil Wayne Bennett as their foundation coach on Thursday, but the landmark announceme­nt threatens to be overshadow­ed by explosive demands from influentia­l figures who claim they have been misled.

In an attempt to avoid alienating potential fans across southeast Queensland and in conjunctio­n with the NRL, the Dolphins have dropped the Redcliffe attachment from their name.

But that has not gone down well with influentia­l figures in the region, who claim they backed the bid after being told the franchise would be named the Moreton Bay Dolphins.

Flannery met with Dolphins chairman Bob Jones and group chief executive Tony Murphy on Tuesday night to demand Moreton Bay be included in the team’s name.

“NRL fans have a built-in bulls--t radar and this stinks, so whoever’s pushing this needs to take a step back and remember the region they represent,” he said.

“The Dolphins have been a local institutio­n for 74 years, this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to turn them into a national icon and it’s a chance we can’t afford to miss.

“Our region has the same population as Penrith and Parramatta combined and every other team in the league is associated with a ... location.

“I accept that the title Redcliffe Dolphins will be retained for the QRL, but dropping Moreton Bay from the NRL title is just a rude slap in the face to locals.

“The Moreton Bay community has rallied around the Redcliffe Dolphins’ Bid, now it’s time for them to repay that loyalty.”

Civoniceva, a 33-game Origin legend who grew up in the region, said the team had to have a name.

“Moreton Bay Dolphins is a no-brainer for me,” he said.

“Footy’s built around that tribalism and if we want to be a team whose passion rivals that of anyone else in the competitio­n then we need to have a sense of place and belonging.”

Dolphins bid chief Terry Reader attempted to put out the fire and said he was unaware of any tension with the local council.

We’ve always had a wonderful relationsh­ip (with council) and will continue to,” he said.

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